It was a dark, stormy night. The stores were closed and the streets were deserted. The townsfolk locked themselves in their homes, settling by the warmth of their burning hearths.
Only the ragged doll peered through the display window of the toy store. The storekeeper had placed her there in a final attempt at selling, instead of discarding her. He was a practical man and liked his profits.
The doll watched people come and go. She saw many faces sad and alone as herself. She did not mind her loneliness but was greatly troubled by the sorrow of others. Many times, her dark round eyes that looked like black beads on cheap necklaces, were moist. But nobody noticed her tears. Instead, they saw a tattered toy, with a clown-like nose, that no one wanted to buy.
The cathedral clock struck nine. A sudden crash of lightning pierced the skies. A roaring thunder followed, shattering the glass of the display window, throwing the doll on to the street. She slowly hoisted herself up and walked away in the rain.
By and by, she saw a boy sobbing alone in a desolate alley. His father had scolded him for wanting a few pennies to buy a ball.
“What is the value of a doll’s nose compared to a boy’s happiness?” she said and gave him her ball-like nose. The boy ran away, screaming in delight.
Without her nose, she struggled to breathe but kept on walking. Soon she came by a mangy dog huddled and shivering in a damp corner.
“What is the value of a doll’s fur compared to a dog’s comfort?” she said and gave him her fur. The dog yelped in gratitude, trying to lick her.
But she kept on walking, trembling from cold and struggling to breathe. Before long, she passed by a poor man’s hut whose hard work never paid enough to fill his belly.
“What is the value of a doll’s eyes compared to a man’s hunger?” she said, plucking her eyes and burying them beside his hut. And lo! Two magic trees sprouted forth and they were full of fruits.
Trembling, gasping, and blind, she could no longer walk and fell into a ditch and lay there.
The morning was bright and glorious. A mother and daughter were walking to the market.
“Look, mama, a doll!” said the girl, and picked up the ragged doll without eyes, nose or fur.
“That is such an ugly and useless doll. Throw it away, child,” said the mother, who sent her daughter to the best school in town, and was worried her neighbors would laugh if they saw her daughter playing with such dolls.
“Let me have her, mama!” cried the girl.
“No, child! I will buy you a beautiful doll at the fair today,” said the mother. “Come, let us hurry, for otherwise, we will find only leftovers.”
They walked away. The ragged doll lay by the roadside, alone and unwanted as always, and breathed her last.
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